[ mona / prog / sol ]


Doffing his fez with an impish grin, The Sussman returns.

1 2020-02-06 03:53

You heard it here first, folks. The Sussman's next book, Software Design for Flexibility, will be out soon. Abelson talked about it at around 25:45 in this interview from last year: https://corecursive.com/039-hal-abelson-sicp/, and it's named in the documents linked at the page for the "Advanced Symbolic Systems" course that Sussman is currently teaching: https://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/gjs/6.945/

It's a graduate level class, meaning the book will likely be a step up from SICP. To whet your appetites while you wait, you can find talks Sussman has given over the past several years on Youtube, where he talks about a lot of the same principles regarding flexibility.

Now that The Sussman has four mind-bending books out, we might consider replacing satori with the Theraveda Four Stages of Nirvana:

SICP - Stream Entry
SICM - Once-Returning
Functional Differential Geometry - Non-Returning
Software Design for Flexibility - Arhantship

2 2020-02-15 21:55

Is there any info on when the book will be publicly released?

3 2020-02-17 07:06 *

According to the red tape memo for the Spring 2020 class Adventures in Advanced Symbolic Programming

Readings: The readings for this subject will be taken from a variety of sources. There will be assigned readings with each problem set. The textbook for this class is currently under development; draft sections will be distributed as needed. The text book is: Chris Hanson and Gerald Jay Sussman; Software Design for Flexibility

4 2020-02-22 16:57

Abelson was saying it would probably be this fall. Of course it could be delayed, but I don't think we need to fear a Knuth-tier wait.

5 2020-02-26 01:55

Knuth-tier wait

At first, people thought it was a hiatus. Then, they agreed that it's probably too-broad a task for any one man to complete, so we should be satisfied with the three extant books. Then we get some of the fourth book! Personally, I want the anti-aging, and anti-death research to continue, even if only to progress the work of this academic treasure-incarnate named Donald Ervin Knuth.

6 2020-04-13 22:51

The class is cancelled and the book will probably be delayed too.
There's a conference of Sussman on Software Flexibility in this channel:

7 2020-05-24 22:30


The class is cancelled and the book will probably be delayed too.

This doesn't seem to have actually been the case: https://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/gjs/6.945/ There was an individual class meeting that seems to have been canceled so perhaps you were referring to that. Also even if the class was canceled the book being delayed would depend on whether or not the book was not to be released until fall due to inadequate testing or some other constraint. Regardless I think we can remain hopeful for a fall release.

8 2020-05-25 00:07

MIT Press page says it's going to be released in February 2021.

9 2020-05-25 01:00


MIT Press page says it's going to be released in February 2021.

Not sure how I missed that, thanks! Here's the link to the MIT press page you mentioned in case anyone else in the thread wants to pre-order or just check when its released: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/software-design-flexibility

10 2020-05-25 06:38

Hopefully it's released under an open license, as SICP is.

11 2020-05-26 21:36

But as far as I remember that was released a like 20 years after SICP was first published?

12 2020-06-06 10:34

I've read this anecdote recently

Gerald Sussman, co-inventor of Scheme and author of SICP, was my undergraduate advisor. The last several times I visited his office, he was usually with Jack Wisdom either programming or deep in thought or discussion about differential geometry and the differential geometry Scheme library they were writing. One time when he wasn't so occupied, I brought up SICP, and asked if he was aware that a lot of people think of reading the book as a sort of magical, enlightening experience. He said, "Yes, I'm aware." I asked if he had any idea why. He said, "The main reason is that it tells a good story. It also has a complete, coherent narrative."


13 2020-06-08 17:45

Lectures: https://archive.org/details/adventures-in-advanced-symbolic-programming

14 2020-06-08 17:48

Thanks a lot!

15 2020-06-10 07:27

From https://www.gnu.org/education/teaching-my-mit-classes-with-only-free-libre-software.html:

[...] The book is entitled “Software Design for Flexibility (how to avoid programming yourself into a corner)”; it will be published by MIT Press soon, with a Creative Commons Share Alike license (and all the code in support of the book is under the GNU GPL).

Too bad I already ordered it.

16 2020-06-10 07:48 *

Always own the good books in hard copy. They're future-proof, contrast is optimal and so is their battery life. Don't feel bad about it.

17 2020-06-10 14:47 *

Lovely. Like a fine wine, The Sussman just keeps getting better.

18 2020-06-10 15:40

Sussman is a founding director of the FSF!

19 2020-06-12 16:55

Abelson too, but everyone has forgotten the poor Abelson.

20 2020-06-12 19:45

No wife who contributed to the book, so those are the breaks.

21 2020-06-13 19:28

Abelson is less "pure." These days he talks about Python and consults for Google and in the OP's linked interview even claims that Javascript is the spiritual successor to Scheme. That worldliness isn't a bad thing per se and he still has a lot of interesting things to say, but there's something irresistible about those saintly types who stick to one incorruptible ideal which they doggedly pursue as far as they can go. One can easily imagine Sussman, ensconced in his office like a hermitage, happily hacking away at Scheme until the end of time; I don't think the same is true of Abelson, for all his merits. But all I know of them is through the internet, so it's possible that I've got the entirely wrong impression.

Incidentally, with Stallman's departure Sussman also seems to be the only founding member of the FSF still on the board.

22 2020-06-14 15:03

Here is the paper mentioned in the lectures: https://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/gjs/6.945/readings/art.pdf

Abstract: We develop a programming model built on the idea that the basic computational elements are autonomous machines interconnected by shared cells through which they communicate. Each machine continuously examines the cells it is interested in, and adds information to some based on deductions it can make from information from the others. This model makes it easy to smoothly combine expression-oriented and constraint-based programming; it also easily accommodates implicit incremental distributed search in ordinary programs. This work builds on the original research of Guy Lewis Steele Jr. [18] and was developed more recently with the help of Chris Hanson.

23 2020-06-15 03:06 *

Springer also released a couple hundred books: https://hnarayanan.github.io/springer-books/

24 2020-10-14 17:53

Looks like the book release was delayed again...

25 2020-10-18 08:58


How did you come across Theravada? This is second place I have seen it referenced in a Scheme context.

26 2020-10-18 18:03

I'm guessing Hippie-culture?

27 2020-10-18 19:33

More likely The California Ideology.

28 2020-10-18 21:31 *

It's an old /prog/ joke that reading SICP leads to ``satori''. It's probably something to do with Touhou.

29 2020-10-19 00:53 *

Komeiji satori is like how haskell throws in spiritual concepts without basis, /prog/ gave meaning to both but I don't think so, the usual sicp memes with the 2hu came after. It's more likely japan being edgy by mixing foreign concepts with native ones then focusing on something like usual, mix that with japanese and wapanese collage students speaking english on the network and you get this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_Zen Ancient instance of integration. Not hilarious like the germanised and latinised terms, different from pseudoanglicism. If you think wapanese are bad you haven't noticed these really being used yet, by er, ``underground subcultures''. Don't give them any ideas to out edge two nukes and one country.
https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/sicp/index.html Self explanatory.
https://www.internet2.edu/ Reminder for part of the historical basis of the network. Should I push memetics into here.
Or it's just some /jp/ wapanese hapa avatarfagging as satori that crossposted on /prog/ really far in the past with intent of using ``awaking'' while taking cs but no archives, dio schwul hakka.

30 2020-10-20 16:37 *

I see, so just some Internet culture then. Slim chance of meeting a sotāpanna here I guess.

31 2020-10-20 21:56 *

I came across Theravada separately from Scheme, having been interested in Buddhism for a long time and finding its plainspokenness appealing and more in line with the suttas compared to Mahayana, particularly the ten-thousand-Buddhas-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin quality of Pure Land. So Sussman putting out a new book seemed a good opportunity to riff off of the /prog/ joke about satori, as >>28 says. It's true that I'm certainly no sotāpanna, and thanks to a fraught living situation haven't even been able to maintain a regular meditation schedule lately. I'm curious about the other instance in which you saw Theravada mentioned with reference to Scheme, if you want to share.

Hardly. The predominant form of Buddhism known to the West is Zen, starting from the Beats on to the hippies, after which it was commercialized and New Aged into the vapid modern pseudo-Buddhism that has led to such absurd misconceptions as "Buddhism is nihilistic" and "meditation is thinking about nothing". There's also some minor awareness of Tibetan Buddhism purely because of the Dalai Lama (a shame because tantric imaginal practices are fascinating) but almost zero knowledge of Theravada, which I think is a little too rigid to be as easily commoditized beyond a few relatively small internet communities where people like to LARP about the sizes of their dharmic penises.

32 2020-10-20 22:43 *

Didn't Buddhist modernism start in the Theravada tradition, in Burma? There is also the whole insight movement thing right?

33 2020-10-21 04:48 *

You're right, of course. To be honest the whole insight thing slipped my mind because despite having its roots in Theravada it feels like any mainstream recognition it had has been very quickly co-opted into the generic mindfulness industry. It also seems to be have been driven heavily by the Goenka centers and I hesitate to describe them as Theravada because they've branded themselves just around "vipassana" and strike me as kind of cultish. But I suppose that does prove that Theravada can be commoditized just like anything else, though I still believe it is less memetic than Zen.

That's not to say there aren't plenty of serious practitioners that have come to Theravada in recent years, but I don't think that it has any real recognition, under its own name, among "hippies" or adherents of "California Ideology" (whatever the fuck that means), let alone the average person. But then again I'm not an expert, a hippie, nor a Californian and certainly no arbiter of who gets to call themselves what, especially since I myself am not devoted enough to identify as a Buddhist.

34 2020-10-21 12:56 *

Memes don't die learn the hard way, the really really hard way. I think using theravada here is more quality but my post was about satori and definitely not revisionism since I'm bored.

35 2020-10-21 13:05 *

Yah, that makes sense to me, I heard that there were lots of authentic Theravada all over the place due to immigrant communities, I imagine there are many authentic converts as you mention. In case you're curious The California Ideology is pretty much what exists today where there were once hippies: https://www.metamute.org/editorial/articles/californian-ideology (tldr: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Californian_Ideology (LessWrong is an excellent example of this on the internet))



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